Welcome to the first installment of Rachael-O-Rama where I will bring you “new” music from bands that you may have already heard of. New singles, new albums, new music videos, new band collaborations and the like will be featured here in this on-going segment every few weeks.
It brings me immense pleasure to kickoff Rachael-O-Rama with one of my favorite bands, (hed)p.e..
The 20th anniversary of (hed)p.e.’s album Broke this past August brought fans a trifecta of events. A new documentary featuring personal tour video recordings from former guitarist and background vocalist Chad Benekos, YouTube video streams with original and current singer, Jered Gomes (M.C.U.D.), Chad Benekos (Chizad), DJ Product (even one with a special appearance by former drummer, BC Vaught) as well as a brand-new album from (hed)p.e. titled, Class of 2020 ((hed)p.e.’s twelfth album!).
(Hed) Planet Earth’s 2nd album Broke may not be “new” music but it has a new outlet; in a documentary style hour and a half long video of personal tour video recordings titled, Touring for Broke. Chad worked on this film for countless hours starting about a year and a half ago. He got the idea to finally edit these videos together when he was thinking about the upcoming 20th anniversary of, Broke.
As the movie begins with the opening riffs of Killing Time you hear the unruly crowd start to lose their minds in anticipation of the band overpowering the stage. Just when you are ready to start screaming the lyrics yourself, it drops into personal home video taken from Chad during the tour to promote their new album, Broke -hence the documentary title, “Touring for Broke.”
Here’s what Chad told me about the creation of this monumental undertaking:
“I used to LOVE home videos from bands… I’ve always thought I might do a project like this but definitely it was just wanting the fans to have something to celebrate the anniversary of the Broke album and it was the perfect excuse to make me really start working on it.”
“It’s been a long process between getting all my tapes rendered and buying the right setup and learning Final Cut Pro and then really figuring out how I wanted to present it. I separated the music videos into their own projects aside from the actual movie project so I could work on them individually and not get bored or overwhelmed. Some days I could edit all day and other days I could only do an hour or two before I would need to step away from it.
Chad used such surgeon like precision with the documentary that during the music video segment to Boom, How You Like That? it is mostly synced up to show the cities they were actually playing in, while they hollered off city names during the end of the song! In fact, each music video segment is set up in such a way that the music being played in the home movies perfectly matches the music you are hearing.
When I asked him if he has any further plans for Touring for Broke, he told me this:
“Absolutely. I just had hurry and put this version out so it could coincide with the actual album anniversary which was August 22. I still have things to add and things to maybe cut and coloring and things like that. The credits need to be finished properly. I just wasn’t sure what people would really think of it but now that we’ve seen the reaction we’d like to see it released across streaming platforms and ultimately a physical copy with artwork and bonus features like the actual live performances, and scenes that didn’t make the film along with throwback merchandise from the Broke tour.”
Looking back on (hed)p.e.’s legacy, I asked Chad why he thought (hed)p.e. had such an impact on their fans and why he thinks Broke is such an exemplary album?
“I think the Broke album turned out the way it did because all the members of the band were really at their peak creatively and we were all representing what each of us did well. The vibe was right and the timing was right. The producer Machine was the perfect guy for us to record with.”
“… I have a feeling that people gravitated towards us because we didn’t really fit in anywhere completely and we were kind of dangerous and maybe they liked how we could put our music together so uniquely. People love to root for the underdog and at that time we were always underrated and underappreciated compared to lots of bands so when fans would discover us, they would really be into it like crazy. I understand that because I’m like that too still to this day. There’re certain bands I just think they’re better than everyone and I can’t believe they’re not more successful so I just love them even more.”
The YouTube streams happened on the (hed)p.e. YouTube channel every Friday night for 5 weeks starting in July to work their way up to the final Friday before the release. To watch Jered, Chad and DJ Product come together on a video Zoom call to reminisce about the old days, how they met, old shows they played, tour stories, etc. was like being a fly on the wall of their friendship and let us see an aspect of our beloved musicians that humanized them to a degree that only exists if you were in the band itself. Through hearing Doug’s (AKA: DJ Product) contagious laugh and impeccable memory, Chad’s descriptive stories, Jered’s recollection of those stories and with stories of his own, you could hear the once distant friends warm up and become close again right before your eyes each week.
If you’ve followed (hed)p.e.’s history, you might know that not everyone was copacetic. Watching the YouTube streams of these old friends/band members lets you see that everyone has the potential of putting the past behind them to move forward and appreciate each other.
DJ Product told me this about the YouTube streams and Touring for Broke documentary:
“I like how some of the original members of the group reunited in recent months. It was really cool that I got to reconnect with Jerad and Chad for 5 Friday’s in a row on an hour-long livestream leading up to the release of Chads movie, Touring for Broke and BROKE 20th anniversary and CLASS OF 2020. Also, BC came on one episode. We do hope to do a follow up soon too. As for the doc, Chad did an amazing job on the whole compile and edit of the film. I’m glad he did it, and captured that period of time of us.
I caught up with my old friend and former (hed)p.e. drummer, BC Vaught who told me this, “Chads video brought back a ton of great memories and the best part was reconnecting with him when he came over to show it to me. Some cocktails, great chats and lots of laughs were had!”
Former lead guitarist, Wes Geer (Wesstyle) told me this about Chad’s hard work and that time in their lives:
“When (həd) toured it was before the digital age. We just had early versions of cell phones, definitely no camera phones. So, thank god Chad brought his camcorder and documented this era of our lives, of our art. Otherwise, as strange as it sounds, it would only be a super foggy distant memory. And after almost a decade of grinding together we were at our peak. For the OG founding members of (həd) this time and these tours w our friends will always stay incredibly special.”
Former bassist Mark Wood (Mawk) sang Chad praises with:
“Chad’s documentary captures an epic time for us, collectively as a band and individually as the musicians who came together to create the musical experiment, we called HED. The Broke journey began a few days into the new millennium when BC, myself and my dog drove a rental van with all our gear from Huntington Beach to a studio in Oxford, Mississippi. We joined the rest of the band and producer Machine to lay tracks for what would become Broke. That journey lasted until late 2001, an endless series of buses and stages, airports and cities and continents, of making new friends and reuniting with old tour comrades. We shared the stage with some of the biggest bands on planet Earth, names so huge if I dropped them, I’d break a foot. And all that time Chad had his camera rolling. So here we are two decades on, with this epic documentary. Which is how it should be – the Broke journey needed its own movie.”
I also had the pleasure of speaking with front man, Jered (for the first time since my last interview with him in 1997) in one of the most enjoyable phone calls I’ve ever had pertaining to music. I asked him about the Broke days and how it’s been looking back in a somewhat time capsule of the documentary. Here’s a bit of our exchange:
“For whatever reason we went our separate ways, those first three albums I look at as the first (hed)p.e. era where I had like 35 published songs, now in 2020 I have 150 published (hed)p.e. songs. What’s been so great is that I haven’t talked to Chad since like 2005 or something, then the pandemic hit. I was playing shows in Rhode Island on tour so I had to make my way back home since the tour imploded because of COVID. I’ve been home ever since. This is the longest break I’ve taken ever, since we were first signed. This allowed me to take a breath and appreciate that first (hed)p.e. era. I reconnected with Chad and it’s just been pretty magical. That parts been pretty cool coming full circle. For a while there I didn’t look at old footage, I didn’t listen to any of the old music because I was just too caught up in trying to stay in the present. But because it was forced on me, it’s been good and cathartic and I’ve been loving it!”
It shows in the documentary and YouTube videos. You can see the rekindling of your friendships again. It started with you guys trying to figure each other out and in the last stream you guys were conversing like old friends with old stories.
“You’re right, it was like that! At first it was like ‘wow, this is interesting’ and then it would just get to where I’d forget that we were even streaming, it just felt like we were just hanging out.”
It’s really fun to hear the old stories, see your personalities and even your regular voices and laughs. You don’t get to see that side of you guys in the music… I’m sure you’ve been told before but your speaking voice is FAR different than your singing voice.
(HUGE LAUGHTER) “Rachael, you’re funny! Especially me, I’m taking on this whole other thing when the mic’s on, you’re so right. That’s interesting you say that.”
For fans to hear your voice, laughter and true personality come out… every singer that sings/screams and talks about certain subjects can get labeled as a badass or possibly an asshole so (laughter erupts through the question) …
“That gives me a reason to do it. 12 records later and people don’t really know me. They know my recording but not me. It’s an extension of me but it certainly isn’t ME.”
With Jered and Chad being the most fashion forward in the band I asked them if they cringed at any clothing choices that are now solidified in this documentary for all to see on a regular basis.
Chad said “…I look back and just think wow I bet that shirt wouldn’t fit me like that anymore or those pants, hahaha”
Jered said, “I’ve never played it safe fashion-wise, I even said it on the YouTube stream, ‘I’m cringing on what I’m wearing!’ I’ve always been that kid that wears Spandex and this and that and even in the video I’m wearing fishnets and 15 piercings and lipstick… anytime you wear something crazy, there’s a great chance that in 10 years you’ll see a picture and go, ‘O. M. G!’ but you know what, I’ve always been that guy anyway.
I also asked Jered why he thought (hed)p.e.’s Broke had such an impact on fans? Without skipping a beat, he also responded with giving props to the Broke album producer, Machine. He also said that after Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys, Snoop Dogg and grunge had already been around and they came out with a heavy-party sounding album, (hed)p.e. was able to provide a different “personality” both in lyrics and music.
In terms of (hed)p.e.’s new album, Class of 2020 Jered said he had been working uncounted hours on piecing it together during social distancing and COVID-19. A way (hed)p.e. came full circle with this album is having Chad as a featured guest guitarist on the song, Greedy Girl andDJ Product contributed some scratches/drops on the song, Last Call. DJ Product also did the album art for this new record and it pays ohmage to the Broke album cover art (which he is also the artist of). I asked Jered if Chad or Product had any musical direction for their songs and he said, “No, everything they did was entirely up to them and they had the freedom to create what they wanted.”
Now, for the million-dollar question that all old school (hed)p.e. fans want to know… I asked Jered if there will ever be a reunion with the original members? The short answer is: No. Sorry to disappoint all you OG fans. Jered says that the mechanics of putting it together; the practice for guys that live all over the country, the fact that everyone is busy with their current lives and jobs, etc. is just too hard to configure on top of a current (hed)p.e.. A band that also kicks serious ass, if you ask this writer.
It was a dream come true to interview all six original members of (hed)p.e..
The first single off Class of 2020 that’s getting great reviews is
Check out the entire album
for previously recorded (hed)p.e. live streams with Jered, Chad & DJ Product